The jury in the trial of former Goldman Sachs Group Inc banker Roger Ng finally got a look at hard proof of the treasures bought with money allegedly looted in the multibillion-dollar 1MDB corruption scandal.
But the jurors did not get to see the actual US$23 million necklace with a pink diamond big enough to be a paperweight that was created by prestigious New York jeweller Lorraine Schwartz for Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the former prime minister Najib Razak.
They were not even shown a photo of the necklace. They saw an invoice.
And so it went on Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court, where prosecutors were winding down their case and showing jurors how billions of dollars diverted from three US$6.5 billion 1MDB bond transactions by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, were used to buy luxury items.
Low is also accused of diverting funds from 1MDB to Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, who was a friend of the financier, to help produce “The Wolf of Wall Street”.
The jury was shown a photo of the plastic case for the DVD of the film – and a screen shot from the credits thanking Low for his support.
Aziz’s Red Granite production company agreed in 2018 to pay US$60 million to settle claims brought by the US Justice Department that it financed the movie and other pictures with stolen 1MDB money.
Prosecutors claim an entity controlled by Low also used 1MDB money to buy five artworks from Christie’s auction house for US$58.3 million, including US$51.8 million spent on a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting titled “Dustheads”.
More invoices were shown to the jury – and also a thumbnail picture of “Dustheads”.
Schwartz, who has designed for celebrities like Beyonce, Adele and Blake Lively, could have been a witness in the case. But she instead gave a statement that prosecutors entered into the official court record.
Low contacted Schwartz in June 2013, asking the jeweller to create a pink diamond necklace with a heart-shaped gem at its centre for Rosmah, the jeweller’s records show. But while Rosmah asked for an 18-carat diamond, “Ms Schwartz said she only had a 22-carat pink diamond”, and a US$23 million deal was struck for the larger stone.
Schwartz later personally delivered the necklace to Rosmah while she was staying aboard a yacht with Low off the coast of Monaco, the records show. Rosmah later bought an additional US$1.3 million in jewellery from Schwartz in 2014, according to the records.
Ng, the only Goldman banker to go to trial in the scandal, is accused of conspiring with his former boss, Tim Leissner, to help Low siphon billions of dollars from a trio of bond deals the bank did for 1MDB.
Low was also charged with Ng in the fraud in abstentia. Leissner pleaded guilty, is cooperating with the US and testified against Ng at the trial.
Neither Najib nor Rosmah were charged by the US, and lawyers for the couple could not immediately be reached for comment. Najib is appealing his conviction on corruption charges in connection with SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.